Bombay High Court has ruled in favour of cross-border cultural exchange, effectively ending the seven-year ban on Pakistani artists working in India. The ban, implemented in the aftermath of the Uri attack in 2016, led to a pause in artistic collaboration and deprived Indian audiences of the talents of renowned artists like Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan, Ali Zafar and musicians like Atif Aslam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.
The ban, which was enforced by the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA), cited “security” and “patriotism” as reasons for prohibiting Pakistani artists from working in India and vice versa. This move left many fans and entertainment enthusiasts longing for the return of their beloved Pakistani artists.
However, the recent ruling by Justice Sunil B. Shukre and Justice Firdosh P. Pooniwalla has declared the ban as “a retrograde step in promoting cultural harmony, unity, and peace.” The court emphasised that arts, music, sports, culture, and dance transcend national boundaries and play a vital role in fostering peace, tranquillity, unity and harmony between nations.
Furthermore, the court observed that patriotism should not be demonstrated through hostility towards foreign nationals, especially those from neighbouring countries. This ruling signifies a shift in the perception of cross-border artistic collaborations and raises hopes for the return of Pakistani artists to India.
Despite this positive development, it remains uncertain whether artists like Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan will return to Indian projects. Fawad Khan, when asked about the possibility of working in India again, mentioned that it depends on whether Indian producers want to collaborate with him. He expressed concerns that those who choose to work with him may face social consequences, but he did not rule out the possibility entirely.
Mahira Khan’s previous experiences in India, including her film “Raees” with Shah Rukh Khan and her interaction with Ranbir Kapoor, garnered negative publicity and trolling. These incidents highlight the challenges that Pakistani artists may face upon returning to the Indian entertainment industry.
While the focus has primarily been on actors, there is also anticipation for Pakistani musicians to make a comeback. The recent success of Ali Sethi’s “Pasoori,” which became a worldwide sensation, demonstrates the appetite for Pakistani music in India. The song, originally from Coke Studio Season 14, even led to an Indian adaptation sung by Arijit Singh.